Skating on Frozen Cranberries
Plant protection process created a winter wonderland.
Frozen cranberry bogs could serve as an ice-skating rink for an entire rural area.
Illustration by Michele Tremaine
“We’ve gotta flood the bogs. The vines are gonna freeze!” our neighborhood cranberry farmers urgently announced early one winter. That year, the cold arctic blast arrived early in our New England town, bringing with it a good deal of excitement.
News that the bogs would soon be flooded caused a wave of excitement that spread like wildfire through every household. And in anticipation of the eventual freeze, each family began a scavenger hunt for the next-size-up skates.
“Some of these skates won’t fit yet,” my mom advised, as she kept pulling pairs of hand-me-down skates out of the big, old, dome-topped sea chest, harbored upstairs in the attic of our old Cape Cod farmhouse.
“Any skates for me?” I asked, peering over the edge of the huge, tall trunk.
“Sure. We’ll find the double-runner skates you wore last year.”
Soon she was digging through layers of neatly stacked winter clothes, putting them in piles to surround us on the cool linoleum floor.
After what seemed a long time, I heard:
“I found the skates!”
“B-b-but, Mom,” I stuttered, “What’s that?” as she held up strange looking, metal plates with curved edges and what seemed to be big, black, thick, long laces.
“These are your double-runner skates,” she explained, realizing I didn’t remember them from last year. “You won’t tumble with these on.”
It was comforting to think I wouldn’t be sliding, slipping and skidding all over the ice and grabbing my mother’s pant legs (and holding on for dear life).
“But, Mommy, they look so, so … hard … to put on …”
“I’ll put them on for you. We’ll do just fine.”
After pulling out skates for my older brother, then rummaging for out-grown skates to share with others, we separated winter jackets, ski pants, sweaters, mittens and gloves into piles to check later. Then we bounced down the dark-oak staircase with prizes in hand. I felt like sliding backwards down the banister, but that impulse was quickly denied.
Because Canada’s freezing blasts arrived much sooner than in previous years, our “grandparent” bog-farmers began measuring the bog-ice thickness earlier and more frequently. And after many careful inspections, they finally proclaimed, “The bogs are safe enough to skate on today!”
Then, and only then, did neighboring families begin to skate on the iced-over bogs.
“Will these skates really keep me from falling?” I asked Mom while she knelt in the snow adjusting my double-runner skates.